Jesus Is Not A Control Freak (11.19.13)
"Tell her to help me." Luke 10,40c
"For with jealousy and rivalry come disorder and the practice of every kind of evil." James 3,16
"Realizing that they were coming to take him by force to make him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone." John 6,15
"I have not sat with idolatrous mortals." Psalm 26,4a.
It's the holiday season here in the good old USA and these are times of rest and thanks for all we have been freely given by God. These days often bring out our best behavior- and praise God- graciousness to friends, neighbors and family.
This is a time to invite people to share in our still considerable bounty and put aside differences and pettiness as we enjoy our God given freedoms.
But holidays can also bring out the inner control freak in folks, rich, poor or in the middle. So perhaps an expected or hinted at invitation is skipped, or made with a list of behavorial and dietary requirements and restrictions, and then only accepted with a counter offer list.
And well the graciousness is left aside in favor of varied attempts to control.
I think I'll write Miss Manners and ask her if she has ever seen anything like this?
Jesus was not a control freak, but a perfect man of God who enjoyed the hospitality of others, and he made a point of graciously feeding folks whenever he got the chance.
He apparently enjoyed the hospitality of others and was invited to a Thanksgining dinner of sorts by Martha, Lazarus' sister. Now it's fair to say that Jesus was close to friends with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, and perhaps even to guess that he was most fond of Mary.
We might think the latter because Mary was more interested in him and the things of faith than "Martha's meal" as proven by her rightful attending to their guest Jesus.
And we might also guess this because after Lazarus died, the likely elder sister Martha came running to meet Jesus with the news, and then Mary did (apparently they apportioned their time with him), whereupon "Jesus wept." One usually allows oneself to weep mostly in the presence of folks we love.
Martha was a bit of a control freak in that she attempts to use Jesus to get her sister to do what she wants.
Martha invited Jesus directly into the sisterly drama.
But he was not playing her game.
This is the classic case of what control freaks do- knowing their claims are inappropriate, or a cause for concern if issued directly, they recruit a third party to do their bidding.
Ah the jealousy and envy and double dealing behind controlling others- it's always ugly.
Jesus will have no part in it: "Martha, Martha, you are fretting and fussing about so many things; only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen what is best; it shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10,41-42)
What are some of the other favorite ways control freaks work besides triangulating?
Lying (he's not obedient to Rome).
Jesus suffered all of these.
The biggest control freak Judas (the treasurer of the apostles) comes to mind.
He wanted Jesus to take up arms against Rome and when Jesus wouldn't he sat and ate and drank beside Jesus at the last supper, so as to carry out the plans of the temple priestly clique planning Jesus' execution.
Contrast the envious and sulliness spreading of the control freak with the bright countenance of our Lord inviting the curious Andrew (and a friend) to "come and see" how he lived. (John 2,39)
A freedom loving and sharing person invites others into their world and doesn't make immediate demands on them until they have experienced Him, and thus can freely choose to serve.
Contrast it also with the "Emmaus walk" disciples (Luke 24,13ff), the only ones in Jerusalem who didn't know of his resurrection. Jesus is in their presence all day long, and not once did he force their recognition of him.
But with the joy and peace of table fellowship, they finally recognized who was sitting across from them.
Think also of his straightforward response to his many disciples drawing away from him after he had given his hard teaching about eating his risen body and risen blood (John 6,66).
Jesus didn't attempt to control any of them.
He was perfectly OK with just letting them go! (How many modern pastors would do this about a matter of highly disputed doctrine no less?)
He merely asked, matter of factly, his twelve closest colleagues "Do you also want to leave?"
In other words, I'm not stopping you, go ahead!"
Jesus is in no way shape or form a control freak. His resurrectional love compels us to obey him, an obedience that always remains an invitation to "come and see" and just so happens to be best for him and us.
His freedom-loving and freedom-granting example serves us well this holiday season.
And perhaps it rouses our spirits and appetites to the level of good cheer, friendliness, and common human respect (to a 'please' and 'thank you' at least), if not to the salvation banquet to come.
Finally, may we all invite him to our table and recognize Him in the breaking of the bread this holiday season.
(Yes I think I see him sitting next to Uncle so and so, but what if he asks me to help with the dishes again this year?)
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...